Guest Post – Through the Eyes of a Marketer: ServiceNation’s Summit

As promised, here is the guest post from CK following up on the proceedings from the ServiceNation Summit:

Sn_3 Having just come off of ServiceNation’s Summit I’m aflutter with thoughts. It’s not every day that I attend an event with 500+ leaders of non-profit, NGO and social change organizations. And it’s certainly not every day that I get to be at an event with such notables as Barack Obama, John McCain, Hillary Clinton, Jon Bon Jovi, Usher, the CEOs of AARP, Habitat for Humanity and the list goes on. And on.

Dsc01352_2 The event left me humbled and heartened; I guess the best way to put it is that the event left me affected. And I admit to wiping tears from my eyes when Hillary Clinton hit the stage. Whether you voted for her or not, she has done momentous, moving things in her career. Matter of fact, whether you agree with the views or parties of any of the political leaders that were present, I hope we can all agree that these people have accomplished much (as anything else would be downright myopic).

And I give compliments to BOTH presidential candidates for doing well at Thursday night’s Presidential Summit. I didn’t come at this event to judge, but to listen. You see, this event was not a debate because this event was about uniting us all around something on which we all agree: the need to place service, in its many and myriad forms…spanning improvements to education to bettering our nation’s health to eradicating our plummeting levels of poverty…into a place of more prominence in our country, to garner more participation from the public and the need to shift many of our existing perceptions around service.

Dsc01355_2 And if we’re talking prominence and participation—and most definitely when we’re talking perceptions–we are talking my language. Um, marketing anyone?

#1 Exalt prominence: As a nation we have plenty to be proud of on service–many don’t realize what a strong nation of volunteers and efforts to improve social conditions we can boast. But we haven’t placed this as prominently as other departments. Governor Schwarzenegger and wife Maria Shriver have worked hard to get California to appoint a Service Director to its cabinet level–and both McCain and Obama vowed to add this position to their cabinets at the federal levels as well. There are bills dedicated to service that are currently in Congress and ServiceNation unleashed a Declaration of Service that many signed at the event.

#2 Increase participation levels: Whether through activism, advocacy or volunteerism, our nation can increase its level of time dedicated to service. Corporations can make it easier for workers to dedicate a portion Rosie26hergranddaughter_3 of their time to charities. Individuals can learn how to spend a few less hours watching TV and instead teach a child or an adult to read. As marketers we can lend a few spare hours a month to helping a charity with their promotional needs. Point is, we can get creative, and dedicating time to service can be both impactful and tenable amid busy schedules.

#3 Shift pre-existing Perceptions: Obama hit on how we “need to make service cool again” and Schwarzenegger hit on how we need to “leave a space open on our resumes for service,” while Bon Jovi wants to make “service the new black, always in high fashion.” The thing is, we need to shift perceptions around (1) how much service improves our country and its citizens and (2) whom all can dedicate time to service. Remember, while the young have unparalleled levels of energy, older segments have unprecedented wisdom that can only be gained through experience–with retirees having more time they can allot to important causes (I will talk more on this later as, just like AARP underscored, we need to stop viewing the 50+ segment as a deficit when, in fact, they will likely be our biggest asset).

In closing, I would be remiss if I did not extend my gratitude to three entities:

Dsc01366_2 First, to ServiceNation: The event itself–and the overall movement–is a marketing brainchild. BRAVO! There are many organizations dedicated to improving the country’s many issues and pushing for social change so to nestle them all under “service” was clever. What’s more? ServiceNation is only about 18 month’s old, which makes their tireless efforts all the more impressive.

Second, to Echo Ditto: I am beyond impressed at how professional and respectful the EchoDigital Team were to we bloggers (big props to Brian Reich and Joseph Porcelli). They ensured we were well communicated to and had proper accommodations. So much so that, as a professional, I would have no reservations about recommending them to my clients who need help in bolstering communications and communities around their special events.

Third, to Nedra Kline Weinreich: Nedra is both teacher and friend to me. She not only provided me the reference to attend the event, Nedra helps me every day. She’s taken the time to teach me new strategies and methods on social marketing (which is NOT the same thing as social media–read more here). I find that teaching another is one of the most giving things we can do for another person; in this case it’s a huge act of service in bettering our profession.

PS: Yes, those are pictures from speakers at the event. I needed to take shots of the large screens as I wasn’t close enough to the stage to get clearer pictures (and Schwarzenegger attended via video feed). I hope it’s OK that I placed photos of the big names in this post…as I said in my opening, it’s just not every day that I’m in the company of 500 of them.

Nedra here again. A big thanks to CK for her reportage and analysis, as well as the very kind things she said about me. If you would like to read other bloggers’ takes on the summit, here are some links:

Be the Change, Inc.

The New Service

Have Fun * Do Good

Allison Fine

The Toad Stool

Awearness: The Kenneth Cole Blog

Everyday Giving

Columbia Graduate School of Journalism


Future Leaders in Philanthropy (FLiP)

Social Citizens

Conservation Nation

Inside the Marketer’s Studio

My 2 Cents

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